Easy Beef Empanadas

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These Easy Beef Empanadas make fantastic comfort food. Their crispy and flaky exterior and steamy meaty interior checks a lot of boxes on the comfort food list.

You might also like these Southwestern Eggrolls or Pork Belly Bao Buns.

Authentic Beef Empanadas

There are many types of empanadas being made throughout South America and Spain, but the ones we’re making today are our own version, which are really just a combination of the best bits from all of the empanadas we’ve had.

These empanadas can be made with whatever ingredients you have readily available in your kitchen (use ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork), which makes them very versatile and easy to make.

You’ve likely had a few different types of empanadas. The traditional variety made in Argentina are baked, unlike the ones in Colombia, which are fried.

The two also use a different type of dough – one a flour pastry and one a corn pastry. Ingredients vary as well. In some parts of Spain, it’s not uncommon to find seafood like mussels baked into their pie-like empanadas.

In Argentina, you’ll find hard boiled egg slices in the empanadas. They are called Empanadas mendocinas. We really enjoy this version, so the recipe found here includes the egg and olive that you’d typically find in an Argentinean empanada.

What Is In An Empanada?

You can find empanadas in some variation in just about every cuisine in the world, even if they aren’t called by that name. It’s not really surprising as they are so easy to eat. They’re essentially a hand pie, which you can grab and eat on the run. They’re also just so darn tasty!

For me, comfort food has to be something you crave, that is simple, and incredibly satisfying. Empanadas are all of those things. They are hearty and filling too. So why not try your hand at making your own at home. They really aren’t that hard to make.

Your empanadas can be filled with meat or just veggies. Here are the typical ingredients that are stuffed into an empanada:

  • Ground beef, chicken or pork
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Spices: cumin, chili powder, and paprika
  • Root vegetables – pumpkin, butternut squash, or turnips
  • Boiled eggs
  • Raisins
  • Olives

You can choose which of these ingredients you want to put into yours, or just stick with the typical recipe, which you’ll find below.

Ingredients You Need

The empanada filling is made with savory ingredients and can be adjusted or changed to suit your tastes. Here are the ingredients we use in ours:

  • Baking potato – I use Russet potatoes but any type of potato will work
  • Onion – Yellow or white onions are preferable
  • Ground beef – Use high quality beef for the best flavor and texture
  • Green onions – Since the onions cook into the ground beef, adding green onions will bring out the onion flavor more and give some crunch
  • Eggs – The traditional filling uses hardboiled eggs. You can leave them out if you want.
  • Seasonings: Paprika, Ground cumin, Chili powder, Salt

If you choose to make your own dough, you will need just a few simple ingredients. If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can find empanada dough at some specialty stores, or use pie crust.

  • All purpose flour
  • Butter – You can substitute lard or vegetable shortening
  • Egg yolk
  • Milk

Can I Get Pre-Made Empanada Dough?

It’s your choice whether you make the dough yourself or buy it pre-made.

You can find pre-made dough in just about any major grocery (often found in the frozen aisle with the pie dough). A Latin or South American grocery will definitely have them.

If you can’t find it already cut into circles, you can always just buy pre-made savory pie dough and cut the circles yourself. You can cut large or small circles, depending on what size you want your empanadas to be.

It’s also super easy to make, so don’t shy away from making it yourself. All it takes is:

  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Butter (or lard)
  • Milk
  • Salt
Your filled empanadas

You’re probably thinking there’s no way these can be easy to make, but have faith. Don’t worry if you aren’t a pro at making cute little parcels out of the dough. They don’t have to be pretty. They just have to taste good! In fact, you don’t have to make your empanadas in any pre-defined shape. As long as the dough holds in the ingredients, that’s all that matters.

If you want to make it really easy, buy one of these empanada presses that do all the work for you. All you have to do is fill them with ingredients and press them together.

How to Make Beef Empanadas

Step One: Make the Dough

empanada dough

If you’re using store bought dough, there’s nothing to do but set it out. If you’re making the dough, just combine the ingredients, mix it into a dough ball, roll it out, and cut out round shapes. Very simple.

Step Two: Make the Filling

For the filling in this recipe, I brown the ground beef, onion, and potato cubes together in one pan. Add the spices and green onion and you’re DONE!

Then slice up the hard boiled egg. You’ll add one piece of egg to the center of each empanada.

Step Three: Stuffing the dough

stuffing empanadas

Next, just scoop some filling into the dough, fold the dough over, and crimp the edges together. You might need to put a bit of water along the inside seam to hold it.

empanadas
homemade empanadas

Step Four: Fry or Bake the Empanadas

The only thing left to do is bake or fry the empanadas. Baking them is definitely easier, cleaner, healthier, and less fuss. But fried empanadas are oh-so-tasty. It’s up to you. I’ve made them both ways.

If you choose frying, you’ll need a large enough vat of vegetable oil or lard to submerge the empanadas. If you choose bake, put them in the oven at 350 ° F for about 10-12 minutes, until they are browned on the top.

Deep frying an empanada

Frequently Asked Questions

Are baked or fried empanadas better?

Which type of empanada is better between baked and fried is a very personal choice. Both are crispy and fun to eat, with the same flavor profile. The difference is just in the texture of the crust. Deep fried will have a more flaky, tender crust, but with additional oil. Baked empanadas will have less of a golden crispiness all around and won’t be as flaky. Both are great, in my opinion.

Can I use pie crust for my empanada dough?

Empanada dough is not the same as pie dough. Empanada dough is made with flour, water, salt, and fat. Pie dough is made with flour, water, salt, and sugar. You can use pie crust if you don’t have time to make your own dough and can’t find any pre-made, but it won’t turn out the same. It will be more sweet than savory and won’t have the same crunch.

Tips & Suggestions

  • You can store any left over empanadas in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to one week. When you’re ready to reheat them, use the air fryer for the best crispy results. Otherwise you can put them in the oven on 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes, until warmed through.
  • You can also freeze empanadas, either cooked or uncooked.
  • If you want to make up a big batch of beef empanadas ahead of time and freeze them, do so after you’ve assembled them, but before you bake them. Put them in the freezer on a plate or sheet pan in a single layer until frozen all the way through. Then you can remove them from the plate and put them in a Ziplock bag. Then you can take out as many as you need without them sticking together.
  • When baking from frozen, thaw them completely in the fridge before adding egg white and baking as per the instructions below.
  • You can also cook them from frozen, skipping the egg wash step. You will need to cook them for 15-18 minutes to cook through from frozen.

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Empanadas with ground beef and onion filling

Easy Beef Empanadas

These easy-to-make beef empanadas are so close to the real thing, you'll feel transported to Argentina in one bite. They do require some time to make, but they're delicious.
4.16 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 571kcal
Author: Laura Lynch

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 1 large baking potato cut into small cubes
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound (227 g) ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 3 large eggs hardboiled

For the dough:

  • 3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (114 g) butter (can substitute lard or vegetable shortening)
  • 1 yolk egg
  • 3/4 cup (177 ml) milk

Instructions

For the dough:

  • Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Cut in the butter until the flour mixture resembles small pebbles. Add the egg and milk. Stir to combine.
  • Using your hands, knead the dough together until dough is smooth.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Cut the dough into 4 inch rounds.

For the filling:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°F(176°C).
  • Cut the potato into small cubes and add them to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and ground beef to the skillet. Cook until the ground beef is browned and crumbled.
  • Add the paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt, and chopped green onion to the skillet. Stir to combine.
  • Add a spoonful of the mixture to the dough rounds. Add a slice of egg. Fold the dough in half over the filling. Wet your finger with water and run it along one seam of the dough. Crimp together along the seam.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until browned on top.

Video

Notes

  • You can store any left over empanadas in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to one week. When you’re ready to reheat them, use the air fryer for the best crispy results. Otherwise you can put them in the oven on 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes, until warmed through.
  • You can also freeze empanadas, either cooked or uncooked.
  • If you want to make up a big batch of beef empanadas ahead of time and freeze them, do so after you’ve assembled them, but before you bake them. Put them in the freezer on a plate or sheet pan in a single layer until frozen all the way through. Then you can remove them from the plate and put them in a Ziplock bag. Then you can take out as many as you need without them sticking together.
  • When baking from frozen, thaw them completely in the fridge before adding egg white and baking as per the instructions below.
  • You can also cook them from frozen, skipping the egg wash step. You will need to cook them for 15-18 minutes to cook through from frozen.

Nutrition

Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 415mg | Potassium: 548mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 960IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 5mg

4 thoughts on “Easy Beef Empanadas

    • Laura says:

      Yes Tosha, you can freeze the formed empanadas and then fry or bake them when you’re ready. They can be either fried or baked from frozen, no need to thaw.

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